Search correlations with StateStats  DEC 03 2008

StateStats is hours of fun. It tracks the popularity of Google searches per state and then correlates the results to a variety of metrics. For instance:

Mittens - big in Vermont, Maine, and Minnesota, moderate positive correlation with life expectancy, and moderate negative correlation with violent crime. (Difficult to commit crimes while wearing mittens?)

Nascar - popular in North and South Carolinas, strong positive correlation with obesity, and and moderate negative correlation with same sex couples and income.

Sushi - big in NY and CA, moderate positive correlation with votes for Obama, and moderate negative correlation with votes for Bush.

Gun - moderate positive correlation with suicide and moderate negative correlation with votes for Obama. (Obama is gonna take away your guns but, hey, you'll live.)

Calender (misspelled) - moderate positive correlation with illiteracy and rainfall and moderate negative correlation with suicide.

Diet - moderate positive correlation with obesity and infant mortality and moderate negative correlation with high school graduation rates.

Kottke - popular in WI and MN, moderate positive correlation with votes for Obama, and moderate negative correlation with votes for Bush.

Cuisine - This was my best attempt at a word with strong correlations but wasn't overly clustered in an obvious way (e.g. blue/red states, urban/rural, etc.). Strong positive correlation with same sex couples and votes for Obama and strong negative correlation with energy consumption and votes for Bush.

I could do this all day. A note on the site about correlation vs. causality:

Be careful drawing conclusions from this data. For example, the fact that walmart shows a moderate correlation with "Obesity" does not imply that people who search for "walmart" are obese! It only means that states with a high obesity rate tend to have a high rate of users searching for walmart, and vice versa. You should not infer causality from this tool: In the walmart example, the high correlation is driven partly by the fact that both obesity and Walmart stores are prevalent in the southeastern U.S., and these two facts may have independent explanations.

Can you find any searches that show some interesting results? Strong correlations are not that easy to find (although foie gras is a good one). (thx, ben)

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There are 53 reader comments

katya19 03 2008 9:19AM

the results for "brunch" are sort of similar to those of foie gras: http://statestats.appspot.com/?q=brunch

Benjamin Doherty21 03 2008 9:21AM

http://statestats.appspot.com/?q=craft
http://statestats.appspot.com/?q=israel

Tim25 03 2008 9:25AM

"Subway" has a strong positive correlation with population density and a strong negative correlation with suicide.

Larry27 03 2008 9:27AM

"apple" (thinking mac users):

VotedForObama 0.75 (Positive, strong)
Income 0.63 (Positive, moderate)
SameSexCouples 0.53 (Positive, moderate)

Suicide -0.57 (Negative, moderate)
EnergyConsumption -0.72 (Negative, strong)
VotedForBush -0.75 (Negative, strong)

Andrew34 03 2008 9:34AM

swamp music has an obvious map.

And then there's vegan

VotedForObama 0.71 (Positive, strong)
SameSexCouples 0.69 (Positive, moderate)

VotedForBush -0.72 (Negative, strong)
EnergyConsumption -0.76 (Negative, strong)

SmartAss34 03 2008 9:34AM

Great tool. Very amusing.

Being from North Carolina (and half of a same sex couple) I thought the NASCAR results were quite telling.

Currently in FL, so no surprise that HURRICANE leads to both FL and LA.

I thought it was fun to compare YOGA and GAY MARRIAGE.

They both show up in almost the same states, while YOGA has the strongest same-sex couple correlation and then GAY MARRIAGE almost a non-existent same-sex correlation. The strongest correlation for GAY MARRIAGE was life expectancy.

The gays are looking for yoga instructors and the old people are worried about gay marriage?

r0bt34 03 2008 9:34AM

I tried terms that have nothing to do with Americans. Well some of them have. Try these:

Ali G: has a strong correlation with Obama (75%) and who are for same sex marriage (68%). It has a very negative correlation with Bush (-75%).

Zidane: strong positive correlation with Obama (72%) and strong negative with Bush (-73%)

God: strong positive correlation with obesity (84%).

BBC: strong positive correlation with Obama (73%).

Restaurant has a strong positive correlation with Obama, same sex couples, urban density, and strong negative correlation with Bush.

Greg35 03 2008 9:35AM

Stimulus: strong positive correlation with obesity, moderate negative correlation with several indicators of liberalism.

Jeopardy: strong positive correlation with longitude.

Old Gaijiin44 03 2008 9:44AM

Vasectomy looked kind of strange.

Jackie55 03 2008 9:55AM

"Gardening" gets a .48 positive with "suicide."

Chris56 03 2008 9:56AM

vacation
Density, .74 (postive, strong).

DR58 03 2008 9:58AM

Cool tool. After cruising a few terms, I found it kind of interesting to just search states (e.g. California). Though things like Area, and Latitude become meaningless, it's kind of interesting to just compare states' "baseline" data.

Sai58 03 2008 9:58AM

food stamps

subprime

weather : (+) Latitude

: (+) Unemployment

Also see google vs. Yahoo and MySpace vs. Facebook

I had earlier done similar economy-related searches, but in a much more crude fashion. And I was looking for more temporal trends (link). Most of the terms that show up on Google Trends don't seem to have enough data here though.

Bevan Houston59 03 2008 9:59AM

I was amused at how few people from outside of my state queried "Oklahoma."
Oklahoma 100.0
Kansas 4.0
Arkansas 3.0
Texas 3.0
It doesn't surprise me that we're most associated with "VotedforBush" being that OK was the only state that McCain carried every single county...

ctoyos04 03 200810:04AM

heh, 4chan: Unemployment, Illiteracy, ViolentCrime, Obesity

AC10 03 200810:10AM

"two girls one cup"

Obesity 0.32 (Positive, weak)
Unemployment 0.28 (Positive, weak)
VotedForObama -0.23 (Negative, weak)
HighSchoolGrad -0.31 (Negative, weak)

- 100.00 in Kentucky, 45.00 in Utah

John P19 03 200810:19AM


Its rather discouraging as a conservative that those who would vote in that direction consistently reveal a sense of tackiness and ignorance- because conservative intellectual thought has a strong and cohesive tradition. So while Nascar is trumpeted, conservatives are rarely identified (intellectually) as

libertarians (see reason. com),
economic conservatives (see WSJ editorial page),
national strength conservatives (see Weekly Standard) or even
social/religious intellectual thought (see First Things journal).

But what is ... is what is.

toby24 03 200810:24AM

saab is quite interesting
wind power (Latitiude and Frost vs Violent Crime and Illiteracy)
heroin = voted for Obama

slo30 03 200810:30AM

This is phenomenal!!

Elvis:
(of course, most popular in TN)
Obesity 0.63 (Positive, moderate)
InfantMortality 0.46 (Positive, moderate)
Unemployment 0.41 (Positive, moderate)

Latitude -0.5 (Negative, moderate)
HighSchoolGrad -0.54 (Negative, moderate)

Elizabeth37 03 200810:37AM

Also from NC, I was proud that NC trumps Texas by such a strong margin forbarbecue.

LondonM20 03 200811:20AM

What about ambiguity? The pattern for Paris is interesting: Paris, Texas vs Paris, France vs Paris, Hilton?

(assuming Paris, of Troy and Paris, Plaster of (etc etc) are negligible)

SmartAss24 03 200811:24AM

Things that make you go hmmmmmm. Palin highest in Alaska, positive for Same Sex Couples and negative for VotedforBush?

I could spend all day here ...

Jason25 03 200811:25AM

Candle has an interesting split along the continental divide.

Margaret27 03 200811:27AM

Just as I thought, only New York Publishing Types care about Roberto Bolano.

Margaret29 03 200811:29AM

@dane: yes, but that may just show Utah's prudery: everyone else doesn't search for pornography, they just search for porn.

g42 03 200811:42AM

Sarah Palin
Hustler, Playboy
Hippie
Fat
Obesity
Pussy
Divorce, check this one! LOL
Penguin
Guitar
Puppies, interesting how different from searching Kittens
Gun
Penis
Inflation, interesting one
McCain

C44 03 200811:44AM

@dane -- search for porn gets red everywhere, and has its strongest correlation with unemployment...

g48 03 200811:48AM

OSX
New York
Rap
gangsta

g52 03 200811:52AM

Interesting ones:

Ford
chevrolet
GMC
Toyota
Chrysler

g56 03 200811:56AM

nailin palin
nailin paylin
aliens
cuba
fidel

Joshua Works00 03 200812:00PM

The geography of these religious terms were expected, but like the correlations, too:

Baptist - very Southern, and strongly correlated to obesity and infant mortality. Negative correlation for lots of things, like voting for Obama, income, HS grad, and life expectancy.

Catholic - not very strongly correlated, but moderate negative with suicide, as expected.

Methodist - Again, strongly correlated with obesity.

Lutheran - Lake Wobegon territory, here.

Muslim - Positively correlated to violent crime, but negatively to suicide.

Hindu - Strong negative correlation with suicide.

Buddhist - Strong negative correlation with obesity. Nice!

Athiest - Oddly correlated with obesity and voting for Bush, but I suspect it's used more often as a derogatory term.

Voodoo - Almost singularly correlated with Lousiana and violent crime.

matt s13 03 200812:13PM

N-word Not entirely "the south", and has HighSchoolGrad -0.77 (Negative, strong)

Other curse words and slurs are interesting in general, they tend to be common in few localities.

Bible The map does a pretty good job of outlining the bible belt.

Jon May37 03 200812:37PM

arugula is similar to and even more polarizing than fois gras and yet the two are really not alike at all. I can understand the love/hate with fois gras, but arugula is really just bitter lettuce! Come on, flyovers, try some!

new york times is much more polarizing than fox news. Is the opposite of the times really limbaugh? Perish the thought!

Charlie06 03 2008 1:06PM

apparently it's mainly literate people who search for duct tape. then again, maybe only the literate people know that it's spelled "duct" and not "duck."

richard lanigan14 03 2008 1:14PM

'cum'. the universality of spoo.

Jeff18 03 2008 1:18PM

"Rap" is strong/positive with obesity and strong/negative with hoghschoolgrad.

Laura24 03 2008 1:24PM

gay, dating, snow, cunnilingus, Twilight, Flickr, blog, 4chan, marriage, news, new york

Chris30 03 2008 1:30PM

The "Kottke" that is more popular in MN and WI is probably guitarist Leo Kottke, who went to college in St. Cloud, MN, settled in the Twin Cities, and has an honorary degree from UW-Milwaukee.

Samantha55 03 2008 1:55PM

"love" has a strong positive correlation with density.

jkottke11 03 2008 2:11PM

Chris, it's probably more that Kottke is a popular family name in WI/MN, not because of Leo (or me).

Maaike18 03 2008 2:18PM

Asia shows a strong correlation with Voted for Obama and Income. Similar results with other continents, except for Antarctica which has a strong correlation with Latitude and Highschool Grad :-)

JohnnyLA51 03 2008 2:51PM

Gas - VotedForBush 0.55 (Positive, moderate)
Obesity 0.48 (Positive, moderate)
EnergyConsumption 0.4 (Positive, weak)

video games - Unemployment 0.29 (Positive, weak)
Obesity 0.23 (Positive, weak)
LifeExpectancy 0.22 (Positive, weak)

(and I work in the industry, yikes!)

Jazz -SameSexCouples 0.53 (Positive, moderate)
Income 0.43 (Positive, moderate)
VotedForObama 0.4 (Positive, moderate)
Density 0.37 (Positive, weak)

Noam Lovinsky15 03 2008 3:15PM

New York is almost always #1 for any sexually transmitted diseases.

Maureen26 03 2008 3:26PM

"Rifle" has a very strong correlation with both Voted for Bush and Suicide, and a very strong negative correlation with Voted for Obama and Density.

laura11 03 2008 4:11PM

"Interracial" has a strong positive correlation with infant mortality and a strong negative correlation with high school grad and is most often searched among the Southeastern and Midwest states. I just wonder in what context they are searching under.....

http://statestats.appspot.com/?q=interracial

eric20 03 2008 5:20PM

Booty. It's a southern thing. It doesn't read well and seeks damp, violent places.

Dave35 03 2008 5:35PM

Try "Proposition 8"--you'll see that the searches for that term in Utah blow every other state out of the water, including California.

TylerH03 03 2008 8:03PM

Polygamy- Very strong correlation with Utah! Utah seems to be the most common outlier from the phrases people have picked. It's probably because it has the most homogeneous population.

jack bierlow13 04 2008 2:13AM

France splits along party lines,
but Conspiracy is universal.
What do they Fear in NC?
and why do they put up Fences in VT?
(to keep the Phish fans in?)

The choices in Montana are Meth and/or Fly Fishing.

robert ivan56 04 2008 3:56AM

Penis Pumps are HUGE in Mississippi. Not so much in VT.

ramki07 04 2008 4:07AM

This point is not something new, but has been repeatedly hammered at in the book 'Freakonomics' by Levitt and Dubner

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

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